We, as Workers, want to be effective. We want to live our lives to some purpose; we want to aim at something. We recognize now that it would be far better to be effective as a saint than to be a useless Worker; but whether we are in the Church or in the Work, we ought to aim at usefulness; aim at something definite. If I was in the Work, I would hope to accomplish something. What we aim at is to see Sinners saved, Churches formed and Workers going forth, and if we keep true, there is no reason why we should not accomplish something worthwhile.
As I look into the future, I am filled with hope. I look back on the past and am not satisfied. I can see that in no Mission I did everything I could for the people. Always, by the close of a Mission, there have been regrets in my heart. I am satisfied that if we sought to be more in touch with God, and more under the control of the Spirit that He would not only lead us to fields that are ripe, but would bring us into contact with the individuals who are ripe for our message, as He did in the New Testament days. Philip was led to the very place where the Ethiopian was hungering after the things of God. We should look for guidance when we are in a district, so that we might be led to the right people at the right time, and be in the condition to deliver them the right message.
Don’t preach too long. We need to consider each other during Convention and working Missions. A Gospel Meeting should last one hour. There is great danger in us becoming wordy. We need to learn to condense, to any all we have to say in a few words. It is a dangerous thing to tell them it all the first time. Keep a little for the next night. Give them the impression you have a little more to say. I don’t know any surer way to kill a Mission, than for a young Preacher to preach too long, or an old one to preach too long. I can preach in thirty minutes now what used to take me sixty. The will is the target we aim at. We want men to get somewhere.
Don’t get to your point too soon. Keep your point, if you have one, until the last. Some people give away their point to begin with, and spend the rest of the time taking the point off. Have something to say and say it in such a way that the people will be able to take it home with them. I believe the real essence of preaching is to get people interested, get them to reason, get their confidence, then take a shot at the will. Send them home with the impression “This man wants me to do something, this man wants to get me somewhere.” It is possible to go through Missions, and never make a serious effort to get people over the line. Don’t leave them astride the fence.
Don’t fish with a pin; fish with a hook. It is our business to make clear to people that we want them to yield their hearts to God. We want them to confess with their lips Jesus as Lord, and give them an opportunity.
How soon should we begin to test Meetings? I have known Workers to work two years and get good crowds, but never test a Meeting once. They were fishing with a pin. You will never land very many if you have no hook. It depends on the condition of the people how soon we should test a Meeting. You will lose ground if you leave it off to the third week, when you should have tested it the first week. It is not necessary for a person to know all that is in the Bible before they submit to Jesus as King. One Mission I worked, I tested the meeting the first night. I knew there was a girl there who would decide, so I gave her an opportunity, and got her over the line. I don’t think it is wise for us to go on night after night, and week after week, without giving the people an opportunity to decide. I knew a Worker once who went around making friends for himself. Now our business is not to make friends for ourselves, but for God.
Don’t read too much. Nothing is so miserable in a meeting as to listen to a poor reader. I have often seen people nearly put to sleep by a young Worker reading too much.
Don’t argue with the people unnecessarily. You are safer to let them have their point. We can afford to wait. It is a mistake to argue with people needlessly. It only advertises what you don’t want advertised.
Don’t get entangled with the affairs of this life. I have met lots of Workers who got themself into no end of trouble by mixing in people’s business affairs. Our business is to put all our thoughts and force into one thing; seeking first God’s Kingdom.
Don’t make too long prayers in a meeting. Don’t be a Pharisee. I find it very difficult to pray in a Gospel Meeting. I always want my companion to do the praying.
It is a dangerous thing to commit yourself too far to anybody. Safer to keep them a little in the dark and tell them it a little by little, line upon line and precept upon precept.
Don’t jest too much. I don’t think there is any harm in being friendly and sociable and telling a good story. I would not object to it, but there is a limit to it. There is nothing so weakening as to overdo it. It is good to give the people a good laugh if the story illustrates the point. We should always keep the serious side of our life to strangers. The foolish talking and jesting we read of in Ephesians has reference to uncleanness. There is a sense in which we can go too far in jesting in things that are clean. I have over-stepped the mark myself and lost ground. I would hate to be all the time with a companion who would not take a joke, but the other thing is just as dangerous, and we need to watch lest we be overcome.
Don’t let them know too much about your past life. It is a mark of weakness when a person wants to give the history of their life to strangers. A man who knows how to hold himself, and not tell his whole story at once will have more weight. You lose influence with people when you talk too much about yourself.
Don’t let the people become too familiar with you. Familiarity breeds contempt. Keep people at arms length. Have some respect for yourself and encourage others to respect you too.
I believe saints have suffered from us not giving them more along the line of their inner life. We have emphasized unduly the outside. Apart from Christ being revealed in the heart, no man can be saved. Their salvation does not consist of walking in the way, of having fellowship with us, but of having Christ governing and ruling their lives from day to day. Did you ever think there was a weakness in our doctrine, too much theory, and too little of the cultivation of the private personal walk with God, getting to know His whisper in the secret depths of our heart. When we emphasize this side of the truth more, our converts will be stronger.
There is a lot in the New Testament with regard to the inner life. Christ in the Heart. We begin to neglect the inner life; we begin to neglect listening to the voice of God in our hearts, we very soon don’t hear the voice of God at all. A good deal of wrongness and rottenness has crept into the testimony through neglect of the inner secret life of the individual. Those who were big on the false way and F.B. failed to recognize the wrongness that was in themselves. That is the reason I believe it is necessary to have a clear knowledge of what the flesh is. What dreadful possibilities there are in the flesh, not only in the man who is a sinner, but the man who is a saint or servant. Any man or woman walking in the flesh, sinner, saint or servant can sink lower in the mire of sin than any beast in the whole of God’s creation. It is an awful statement, but is true. The Scriptures show us that some of the best men made shipwreck of their lives through yielding to the flesh. We need to be careful, to fear, to have more of the power of God in our lives, so that our own selfish sinful human nature should be brought into subjection to Him, that our lives may be effective for Him.
I believe we as Workers would be very much helped by reading Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus. You would be surprised with how much there is in them with regard to the personal life of Paul, Timothy and Titus. How anxious Paul was that Timothy should be a living manifestation of the truth and that he should get victory inwardly and outwardly. He wanted him to war a good warfare. He said “Be thou an example.” Our preaching is very little use apart from our example. Now just as Paul wrote that to Timothy, a young preacher 1900 years ago; it is just as applicable to us today. An example in word in our conversation one with another. The saints are largely what you make them. The example that we give the saints is how we shape their lives. “Example in charity” in love. The kind of love you read about in 1st Corinthians 13:22. 5th Chapter, Paul says “Keep thyself pure.” That is that there should never be allowed in our relationships one with another anything which would hinder that fellowship from being pleasing unto God. Paul himself would never have given his experience to Timothy if he had not thought it was necessary to remind him of seeking to live a pure life in all his relationship with the saints.
I could give you a list of Workers, both brothers and sisters who have made terrible shipwreck of their lives during the last five years, and that is the reason that we have passages like this. These Epistles of Paul to Timothy should be read frequently. Read them as a message to your own soul, lest world and flesh and devil should take advantage of you, and you should be overcome. There is a possibility of this in all our lives, so there is need to be careful. There is need for us to watch over each other, to seek to help each other. I believe old Workers are responsible for helping young workers. The help young workers don’t get or do get during the first year makes them or mars them. I would be ashamed of my life if I did not seek to help any young worker who came with me. If you can’t do very much in the Mission, you can to help to develop your companion. It is not that you should rule over one another. Paul did not ignore his companion. We need to be loyal to each other. We are not joined together by law, but by love, and we need to be subject one to another. Nothing more helpful than each one of us as individuals to be loyal, even if it means giving against our own judgment.
I believe a lot can be done through faithful visiting. You can talk stronger in the home than in a public meeting. To talk too freely to people before you start your meeting is weakening.
The best subjects to start with. I tell them what kind of men were in the Bible; what saints are; tell them about Jesus as a child, saint and servant. Tell them Jesus was a saint before He was a servant. Ask them who was the pattern for the saints, and they say Jesus, and I ask them who was the pattern for Preachers, and they say Jesus. I sometimes talk to the children when I mean it for the older people. I believe you can give people an awful lot of truth without giving the enemy any occasion to talk. When we are anxious to get people to profess, I don’t think it very bad to hammer along the same line for several nights. There is a lot of power in reiteration. When people are ready to make a choice, keep after them. People I want to deliver from their old professions I leave to the last. I preach one night on the Ethiopian Eunuch and ask them why Philip did not speak to him on his way up to Jerusalem. He was going up there for more light. He would not have listened to Philip if he had not been purely disgusted with the _________________(text missing).
It is a mistake for us to suggest that religious people are hypocrites.
To use Cornelius at the right time is wonderful effective. He was a convert, man, outside the Roman and outside the Jewish way; yet believed in the God of the Jews, and was worshiping Him up to all the light he had. He was believed on by those inside and outside his home. He knew all about the Jewish way, and the Jesus way, and the difficulty he had was, which was the right way. The Lord heard his cry and answered his prayer and sent His servant Peter. What should have happened to Cornelius if he had not listened to Peter? Lydia is also a good subject.
What is the best way to study? It pays to study carefully, not merely to read, but study. Possible to read a chapter a dozen times, and get nothing out of it. Work it up and make some use of it. I generally practice on my companion. We ought to be diligent students of the Bible, not to make us heady, but useful. The better you know the Book, the better able you will be to make use of it. I find the Epistles of Paul very helpful, finding out what he said about his own ministry. What was his financial condition when he reached Corinth? He was broke. He was scared to death in Corinth, and the angel of the Lord was sent to tell him to stick to it. What did he preach? “Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves your servants for Jesus sake.” It is good to have a definite line of thought when studying. Studying the Acts with the Epistles is helpful. You can’t study too much, and when you do study and preach, seek to condense, seek to give the truth in such a way that they will be able to grip it. It is not the amount we know or say in a meeting that makes the truth effective. It is the ability to make use of what we know. I am not a bit afraid or ashamed to make use of anything I learn from anybody, if it is anything that will make me more effective and useful.
For anyone to be effective as a preacher, he must learn how to separate himself and wait upon God. Most Workers have great difficulty in knowing how to think right. The very fact that we have no ability to collect our thoughts makes us ineffective as Workers. We need to learn how to control our thoughts. The best way to get rid of wrong thoughts is to get right thoughts. Sin originates in the thought. Sow a thought, reap an action, sow an action, reap a habit, sow a habit, reap a character, sow a character, reap a destiny.
Very important for Workers to know how to take a rest. There is nothing so foolish in all the world as to worry, to do as the man who put the motto on the mantle “I am an old man now and have had lots of trouble, but most of it never happened.”
Is it wise to help in the home where you are stopping? It is alright to help some, but don’t become a slave. Good to keep on the right side of the lady of the house. I don’t think it is wise for brothers to help inside too much. When the people see your life is engaged, they don’t expect it. We can fill in every hour of the day. No Worker need give the impression that they are idlers or loafers. We earn our living just as honestly as any farmer. Make them feel that you have something to live for, and that you are determined to use your time to the very best advantage, and you won’t be very much bothered about their chores.
Read related sermon by: Jack Carroll at Hayden Lake, ID 1932 - Workers to Foreign Fields.
I Thessalonians 2:10: “ye are witnesses, and God also, how holy and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe:” Something we need to aim at. Unless we are aiming at this kind of behaviour, we will get nowhere. Whatever side of the world we are on, there needs to be a united aim. When difficulties between companions, friends, or difficulties within ourselves arise, we need to know how to behave ourselves.
Colossians 2:5: “Joying and beholding your order.” The Family Order as Workers: It brings great pleasure to God when He sees amongst us as Workers the family order. If this order is not amongst us as Workers, as servants, how can it be in God’s people? We need men who are fatherly, brotherly, women who are sisterly. Those who, as young Workers, we look to as fathers, brothers, mothers...those so far removed from us by experience, but so near to us in another sense. Those who discipline us, but are also understanding, and amongst the younger there is no questioning of what the elder brother said...because of the evidence of the leading of God. God puts true value on the young Worker and his struggle, but ALL have a place in this. It is only in later years that we know how to better serve and support the older.
One important thing is to keep down and keep in place. You may be a person of undoubted ability, but there is NO substitute for experience. The friends will take correction from an older Worker but not a younger. They know if things are in place or out of place. It is not good for a younger companion to get out in front of the older. Take an example from Prince Phillip. Since his marriage to Queen Elizabeth, he has always stayed one step behind...always keeps his place. If each knows his place, there is the evidence of total unity.
To Younger Workers: Remember when you come to the convention grounds, when you climb into that car you drive...”there is not one thing my generation had to do with providing this.” From the early days, realize that none of this is to be taken for granted. It has been gathered at great price–the sacrifice of others gone before. It is not to be treated carelessly, indifferently. The Family Order is still the best.
As you get older, you have a greater responsibility to be a father, mother, sister, brother–one the younger are able to talk to–and in confidence. The generation gap belongs to the world.
Don’t rush the process...There needs to be a going through the grades. Do not expect to be everything, have everything. It is not very effective if we try to preach beyond our experience. If we start weak and small, that is the better way. The young companion can bring something of heaven into the beginning of the meeting...There can be a humility of mind, something about our demeanor and ministry that can be help to our older companion, giving him a chance to say something...Aim to bring into the meeting something of the atmosphere of heaven.
Inspiring Confidence: We cannot demand respect and confidence. It is gained by our conduct. The friends should be able to see certain things in our lives. There are things for the old and for the young...They expect it and have a right to. Great ability is not it, but a conduct that commands respect, and we work on it for a long time. In the homes: don’t try to run people’s affairs or their home...The sooner we take some or our own peculiarities in hand, the better hope there is of doing something about it–bossiness, etc.
We inspire confidence by feeding the Lambs and the Sheep. When Jesus chose those first men, he didn’t choose great orators, but those who would feed the flock of God. There is the need for something that comes from the throne of God. In difficulties in the flock, feed them first. Sheep know those feeding them, and where it comes from. Learn to keep Jesus as the focal point of your ministry. He is the bread of life. Allow the veterans of old...Moses, Isaiah, David...to lead you to the Christ.
Giving Confidence: Give your confidence first of all to your companion. We can take the attitude of mind or spirit of withholding support. Give your support. Withholding it can bring in a state of paralysis...They need your confidence and support. When one withholds, it can be a dragging on the one in responsibility. By giving your confidence, it will add to the strength of the structure.
- Don't neglect Bible study. If we are to be prompted by the Spirit we must be FILLED with the word of God. Use your concordance, subject index, etc, etc.
- Don't misquote the scriptures, aim at accuracy, memorize.
- Don't use the pronouns “you” or "your" in addressing God in prayer. "Thee", "Thou”, and "Thy" are more correct.
- Don't talk too much about being "God's voice". Be God's voice and leave the rest to Him.
- Don't despise people because they are poor, ignorant, uneducated or sinful.
- Don't find fault with the soil. The material is not always to blame.
- Don't form the habit of preaching too long. A little well said is better than much ill said.
- Don't form the habit of mind wandering. Preaching is not saying everything that comes to one's mind; But delivering a message from God to men. STICK TO YOUR SUBJECT.
- Don't use big words when small ones will do. We can make ourselves understood without using such words as inexorable, obliterated, eliminated, etc, etc. Aim at simplicity. Not long ago a brother wrote these lines, "Your preaching is so profound, it always seems to me you miss the mark and aim too high, and lack simplicity."
- Don't neglect your companion; be companionable.
- Don't jest about sacred things. We can be humorous without being sacrilegious.
- Don't be impatient with people. We are to approve ourselves as the ministers of God. (II Cor. 6:4)
- Don't form bad habits in speaking, in gestures, or adding some kind of prefix or affix to sentences.
- Don't be unwilling for correction.
- Think of the thing itself
- The place from whence it came
- Its purpose or use
- Its associations
- Its probable end.
One letter that helped me lately, it was in reading the last chapter of the First Epistle of Peter - a verse very familiar there, this thought impressed on my mind, 7th verse, “Casting all your care upon Him, for He careth for you.” In the Revised Version, “Casting all your anxiety upon Him, for He careth for you.” Notice the little letter ‘c’ before the word casting - look up that word casting. I put the references down in the order that appealed to me. These verses about cover everything that we most worry about and the foolishness of worrying about them, - 1 Peter 5-7, Matthew 6:25, Luke 12:11, Psalm 37:5, Psalm 55:22, Philippians 4:6 & Hebrews 13:5. Look up those in Luke and Matthew - these verses show that the disciples didn’t need to worry about their clothes or food, etc., not much need to talk about that. Plenty people who ask you, Where will you get your clothes from, your food, etc., - those verses in the Gospels spoken by Jesus Himself - we don’t need to have cause to worry a single bit about the needs of our body. The Lord has provided that those who go forth in His Name needn’t give a bit of worry to that. We who are older in the Way can encourage you younger ones that we don’t have to worry about our clothes, about our food, our temporal needs, all that I need for my body as long as I am in this world, God will provide.
The 37th Psalm, Verse 5 “Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. And He shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday.” In the Revised Version, “Roll your way unto the Lord.” Two thoughts in that - all of us look into the future, what steps will I take, etc., where will I go today, where will I go for an opening, etc. Nice thought that I can roll the whole future unto the Lord. Next week - I can roll that unto the Lord, where I’ll go, etc. “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord,” We can leave the future with the Lord - the hours, the days, the weeks, the years. Doesn’t mean that we wouldn’t make plans, but they would be of that sort that if the Lord shuts the door so that we couldn’t carry them out, that we would be satisfied. “He shall bring it to pass” - another thought some things I have tried hard to see come to pass, but seems I can’t bring it about - then I just get to the end of myself and just leave it over to the Lord and see if He can’t bring it to pass.
Then the next reference, Psalm 55 - one of the darkest Psalms, written by David at nearly the very darkest time in his life, when Absalom rose up against him. “For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him: but it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company.” I believe he referred to Ahithophel. Is there anything harder than to realize I have been betrayed by the one I trusted most. David put his confidence in God, that He would defeat the counsel of Ahithophel. There is a great thing that ought to be for all of us, that when you are terribly disappointed, etc. you could roll that upon the Lord, “cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee; He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.” When you and I might suffer, worries, disappointments, etc., in those who we had sought most to help, ones we loved most, roll it on the Lord. We can be sure to get disappointments and we must protect ourselves against that.
You will see that David felt there was something going wrong even before Absalom rose up, but then he wasn’t crushed. Now I think we might connect that up with what we were speaking about Paul when he was in the prison about those that were adding affliction to his bonds, but he said I can rejoice, I can bear that. We might wonder who that might be that would be preaching strife - we can see that there rose up a kind of a party of Jewish people that had professed, but didn’t see that the Lord was doing away with the old Jewish way. The Lord made it clear to Paul that it wasn’t necessary to conform to the old Jewish law. That was an awful shock to these Jews. They were anxious to get proselytes, went among the Gentiles making them. Then, although James & Peter didn’t understand at first, they were willing to hear Paul. Paul said of these Jews that they were the enemies of the cross of Christ. They would be preaching Christ alright, but would be mixing in the Jewish way too.
Paul said to the Galatians that they were just trying to take away the reproach and offence of the cross. Suppose Paul had weakened then and given in, been untrue then? But God had made it clear to Paul. I suppose saints have said to you, I wouldn’t mind the persecution that comes from the outside, but oh!, when it comes from the inside, I can’t stand that at all. Who caused the most suffering in both the Old and New Testament, wasn’t it those on the inside? Wasn’t it one on the inside that caused Jesus to suffer most - Judas? Our old human nature would make us a Judas. Paul was very practical - told them that of your own selves, some will just rise up and let their old human nature control them, and lead disciples after them. We ought to be glad we are counted worthy to suffer a little of it, knowing that God will work it out for his own purpose.
The last one I thought about was this one we read first in Peter. Do you suppose that it is going too far to say this care is the care for God’s people? He had been speaking here about or to the elders. The care you have for God’s people - casting all that upon Him because he careth for you. It would be a sad thing if any of our workers wouldn’t have a burden on their hearts for others - the care of God’s people. Every true servant of God ought to bear a part of it - burden on your heart. It would be an awful thing if we wouldn’t be caring for the souls of God’s people, of each other, of older saints, younger saints. A person could let it be such a great care or burden trying to carry it themselves instead of casting it upon the Lord. I thought about this rolling - impressed me that this was like a burden that was tied on you, tied with knots, but a pleasant experience - when anything is burdening you down a great deal, and even though it does take a great deal to get there with the Lord, and you could have a little rest - I have left everything with the Lord, just taking it bit by bit, as He guides. I remember the first year we were out, near Nicol’s home, 60 or 70 professed, but they terribly disappointed us, only one left. For a year or more after that mission, what a terrible burden that was on our shoulders, etc. So we could roll the burden - when you are greatly disappointed in someone who has professed through you - just roll all that on the Lord.
We have been mentioning in Worker’s Meetings four different things that have meant much to us. Whether old or young in the way, if we would observe them, it would help us a great deal:
1. Watch our relationship with the Lord. Keep right with the Lord. This means I will be one with Him, I have no plans outside of Him, no plans or ambitions for my own life outside of the Lord. I believe it was what Jesus meant when He said, “Abide in Me.” Study the life of Jesus with this one thought in mind - the relationship Jesus maintained with the Father. Jesus away consulting the Father, before He chose the twelve, etc. When everything was going against Him, He was away with the Father there. Keeping right with the Lord suggests to me that I will only be thinking of His glory. Wouldn’t think of converts as my converts, etc. Not my converts, not my friends, not my work, but it is the Lord, the Lord’s converts, the Lord’s work, etc. This will give us wonderful strength - that I went out to preach, not to please any man or woman, but I went out to please the Lord, to be a worker with the Lord because I believe He called me out. We sing, ‘Not unto men I labour, my service is unto thee.’ You see when you do it unto the Lord, it means you are not leaning on others. The thought came to me, if I don’t keep right with the Lord, nothing my best friends could do for me would be of any value to me. I want nothing from anybody, from any man, that God doesn’t move them to give. I have got to keep right with the Lord.
2. Be sure you keep right with your companion. We don’t say this is just as easy a thing as keeping right with the Lord, but it will be easier if you keep right with the Lord. Begin the year saying, I am going to purpose to keep right with my companion this year, not provoke my companion, etc. If we can’t love the companion we are living with, how could we profess to love the sinner? Make up your mind I will be to them what I ought to be. The two old horses, turned loose, eating grass, so close together, etc. Great thing to be like that. Some saints have told about an awful pull between those two workers, saw it at the table, etc. Asked where is your companion today? One going away ten minutes before the other, don’t walk together, don’t come in together, etc. Suppose you do get a companion that isn’t all he ought to be, might not even be saved, but couldn’t you keep right with him for that time, for a year? Married together for a year. Could there be any excuse for not keeping right with our companion? The first concern - I am not responsible for my companion, because he is younger than me - if I see him not getting victory in prayer, I am going to pray for him, etc. Then keep right with all the workers in that field. Co-operate when you are meeting at Special Meetings, at Conventions, with the one who is responsible for making plans in your field. Many things you and I might see that should be dealt with, but then we might go about it in a way that would do more harm than good - better to talk it over with the one who is responsible in that field, etc.
Another difficulty has risen up - we see the possibility of troubles springing up amongst us and unnecessary suffering caused by a difference between young workers and older workers. Possibility of older workers being somewhat to blame, possible for younger ones being to blame. Sometimes when we get old, we get cranky. Sometimes it’s our nerves that make us like that. Possible for an older worker forgetting what they were like when they were young workers. I made up my mind I would take all slurs, etc., from the younger ones. One old saint said to me this year - Oh! You don’t know how it cuts deep when you get slurs from the younger ones growing up. I realize now as well as the older ones that we weren’t all we could have been to our natural parents, etc. I just remind myself how many in the human family do it, and the older ones have to take it. Why shouldn’t I take this in the spiritual family? Even John & Paul and others weren’t highly respected by others. Diotrephes shut the door on him. But now to the younger ones - it is an awful bad thing for a young person to be despising others who have gone on years, etc. One sister cried all night over what a young brother worker had said to her in the presence of saints. Her sister told her, what would you be crying about what he says for? Nevertheless, it didn’t save her the suffering. In new countries like America - the country for youth, sometimes that bad point goes with it - youth despises age. Look at the Bible, characters like Ruth, Esther, Timothy, - evidence they had great respect for those older. You are hurting yourselves terribly, friends, if you don’t remember that I ought to have respect for those that have spent years in His service. Couldn’t say it was real Christ like if younger ones don’t have a true respect and appreciation of those who have borne the heat and burden of the day.
Another thing - even when you see older ones fail, drop out of it - not a good thing to talk about them, etc. Remind yourself - I haven’t come to the place where they failed at yet, I don’t know what temptations come at that time, etc. Look at that verse in Peter, “Likewise, ye younger…” I have been told lately about younger workers getting together and talking about all the failures and weaknesses of older ones - that wouldn’t help yourselves any, feeding upon their mistakes, etc. You have heard about that curse God put on Ham - if I take pleasure in looking on the failures of others and getting others to look at it, I will get the curse of Ham. Young workers should appreciate what older ones have put into it. Have a willingness to be guided by them. Don’t talk to saints or other workers about your companions. Much harm has been done by workers talking to saints about their companions
3. Keep right with the saints - especially in the part where you are laboring. A lot in saints that might encourage you to get wrong toward them, make you feel hard toward them, have no sympathy or compassion. Possible to be expecting too much of the saints. Expect them to go to too many meetings. Like to have them come to too many gospel meetings, - expect them to drive 20, 30, or 40 miles every night, not the best thing, possibly they wouldn’t have time to pray, etc., even though their presence in the meetings would be helpful. Then in another state some who couldn’t afford to buy the gas, and yet the workers got angry at them for not coming to the gospel meetings.
4. Keep right toward the sinners. Not so easy, either. Sometimes you feel how much you need to cry in your heart toward God to help you to have compassion for the sinners even like Jesus when they were going to crucify Him.
(Question asked about eating together after union meetings and visiting together) Better to go home after the fellowship meeting and meditate on what was heard. Danger of too much sociability. Good thing if you could encourage people to go home and spend the Sunday. Quite a discussing about spending the Sunday. Some say that Sunday means nothing, that every day is the same. We don’t believe that Sunday is that the Sabbath, but we surely do believe that if you spent that day profitable, it will help you to spend the other six profitably, it will help you to spend the other six days right. Rest for the body and using that day for spiritual things. Have respect for the Sunday, keep it as free as possible, do as little of this world’s work as we possibly can. Don’t do business if possible - not even legal. Use the day for spiritual things - writing letters, quietness - would be a great thing to teach God’s people that. . .
It isn’t easy to know just where to begin or what to say in a case like this; I may begin by saying that I am very glad to be here, and for the help I have received during this visit, for the fellowship and love and kindness that have been shown me from every side.
It is now quite a little while since I was in my first convention in 1903, after I had been a little over one-half year in the work. I was the baby at that convention; I still feel very much of a baby. The next convention, 1904, I had not emerged from babyhood yet . As I mentioned before, a little incident happened at that time: I had taken my place at the dinner table, and there was no plate at that place; I mentioned it to Mary Knox who was waiting on the table, serving in different capacities. I said, “I have no plate here.” She said, “A big fellow like you, you ought to be able to get a plate for yourself.” It wasn’t bad reasoning, and I’m sure it has helped me. I have thanked Mary personally for the admonition she gave me at that time. Perhaps it doesn’t feel so good to be told off in that way , but it taught me to do some things for myself instead of leaving them for others to do.
I feel my inability and unworthiness on an occasion like this - in a Workers’ Meeting - but I am pleased to be here, and I am thankful for what I have received. I know that my visit shall be a great help to me, and I hope that it will not have caused any disagreeableness to any one in any way. We recognize that we don’t know much about some of the difficulties you have to content with down here, difficulties that I am sure we don’t have further north, so we don’t feel that we have very much that we can impart to you. I have thought a little of the words that Paul spoke concerning himself and others whom he addressed, when he told how he valued the ministry that he had received. One place is in Acts, speaking of bonds and imprisonment that awaited him, and even actual death, he said, “None of these things move me, neither do I count my life dear unto myself, tat I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry that I have received of the Lord, to testify of the Gospel of the Grace of God.”
In reading in other parts, I have been freshly impressed with the seriousness with which Paul took this ministry. How conscientious, earnest and concerned that he might fulfill that ministry, that he might not in any be an offence, that he might not in any way hinder the ministry of the Gospel; he wanted to fulfill all and carry all out, that might be involved in connection with this ministry. I have read in I Corinthians 9 some of the things and rights that he might have used without fear of being questioned. He could have done them and then dismissed them from his mind, as being no one elses business except his own, but he didn’t do that. He didn’t exercise some of these rights that he had a perfect right to do. Although he wasn’t under obligations to any man, yet he became servant unto all. He was concerned about this power in the gospel that had been placed in his hands, and the fear that he might abuse or not use aright this power in the Gospel, controlled him. It was a most serious matter to him. There are even little things in connection with this.
One sister gave me five dollars one time to use in the work. She didn’t have it easy to earn those dollars. She worked as a charwoman, one day here, the next somewhere else. That round lasted two weeks, and every day was a collection of two weeks dirt. I was sitting on a street car one day, and that lady was going home from work. She didn’t know that anyone was looking at her, and my heart was very much touched. She was worn out, stooped over, tired, and I felt those dollars I had received were something sacred, a sacrifice that cost a lot. It caused me to fear regarding how to use my power in the Gospel, even in the matter of the five dollars I had received.
Paul said instead of using his rights, he suffered all things for the gospel’s sake. When one reads some words, one is humiliated. “Suffer all things;” those words come from a Greek word that really means a roof, a protection. Here it would mean broadening out one’s back to take the load, to take the burden, to be a burden-bearer. The word would imply a protection, and would be more like the shed roof over some railroad or other road, because of avalanches of snow or rock. All Paul’s consuming thought was this - how he did all for the Gospel’s sake, that he might be the means of winning some or as many as possible. If we do not know something of this, we will not win many for the Gospel. Paul could very consistently write to others and exhort them to fulfill their ministry, to complete and carry out all in connection with it. He wrote to Archippus, “Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord that thou fulfill it.” To Timothy, “Watch thou in all things, endure affliction, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of your ministry.” Paul thanked God that he had called him and had counted him faithful, putting him into the ministry.
On one occasion, I needed a little backing. I went to the British Consul, the Consul had not been there very long. I hadn’t yet had anything to do with him, he didn’t know me, but after talking to him, I said, “You are a man of judgment and discernment, and you will know if I am like what I am representing myself to be or not.” He wrote out that he considered that I was a man worthy of confidence. Paul thanked God that he had considered him a man worthy of confidence, and had put him into the ministry. One does not feel worthy but one would want to be worthy of all confidence. Worthy first of all of the Lord’s confidence, worthy of one’s fellow-workers, worthy of the confidence of saints, and even those outside. One would fear to do anything that might weaken or shatter this confidence, so that one might be worthy as Paul was worthy.
In writing Timothy, he counseled him that he might be an example in word, in conversation, in spirit, in faith and love and power; that was a lot. This was a great commission. Later he told him there were some things that he should follow after: righteousness, faith, charity and peace; follow after patience and meekness. Concerning the last two words I might add patience, and these two words are often used in Swedish, interchangeably. The word in Swedish means “standhaltigkeit.” It means firm and unwavering in your conviction, your purpose, your aim in life. In spite of hindrances, difficulties, opposition, persecution, in spite of the suffering or sacrifice that might be involved. If you have this, you won’t allow yourself to be scared out, or become discouraged, won’t panic in danger; it is a virtue that is not so easily acquired, the fulfillment which is not so easily achieved, it doesn’t come easily—as just by praying for it.
Romans 5 – “Tribulation worketh patience.” It is this “standhaltigkeit,” this patience worked by suffering. The trial of your patience. That trial may be fiery, but it is more precious than silver or gold. “Let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire wanting nothing.” Perfecting at any cost what may be lacking in us as Christians, as those who profess His name. Perfect means that these qualities are not in us in some weak form, or as they were in the beginning, but that they would be ripened and developed in us. That was something that he exhorted Timothy to follow after.
The other thing is meekness; to be mild in temper, not easily provoked or irritated, not vain, not haughty, not resentful, unpretending. A meek person is one whose spirit has been disciplined, has been schooled to be sober. It cannot be hung on or tacked on, just on the surface, but it goes down deeply. It can be called an inward grace of the soul. It penetrates and permeates and saturates one’s inmost being, mellowing all that is hard and harsh in a person, making him mild, considerate and king. It will dispel all resentment and rebellion. It will enable one to take without complaining and murmuring from the Lord the things He sees fit to bring in one’s way.
He is always mindful of the fact that, “All things work together for good to those who love the Lord.” This grace would be exercised first and always to the Lord, and also toward one’s fellowmen enabling one to take injustices and insults and reproaches, even knowing that it is the Lord who allows those things to come. He sees that our training and development and character need these things to deepen them.
It was that which caused David, when fleeing from Absalom when Shimea took advantage of the situation and cast stones and abused David, to take all graciously. One of David’s men wanted to make short work of Him, but David said, “No.” The Lord allowed him to do it. He was lenient with that man and spared him afterwards although he received, as all such do, his due reward. It was that grace that Isaac manifested, when they came time and again and took the wells that he dug. He went on and dug more walls and got water always. The work of grace that goes on in one’s heart is worthy any price and though cost will not be cheap.
Perhaps we will appreciate and value these qualities enough that we will be willing to pay the price. The cost is not cheap—it is one of the fruits of the spirit—one of the things that there is no law against. There is a lot said about meekness in the scriptures, both in the Old and New Testaments, but no one manifested the meekness as thoroughly as the One who said, “I am meek and lowly…” Meekness is always connected with lowliness. I hope we can learn of Him and have more of this.
We read so much in the scriptures of what those who had it received – how well pleasing they were in the sight of God:
“The meek shall He guide in judgment, and the meek will He teach His way.”
“the meek will He beautify with His salvation,”
“the meek will I lift up”
“the meek shall inherit the earth,”
“blessed are the meek.”
Song 199 in old book.
There are those here in the East who remember us this hour, those who know we are going to be gathered for this little meeting and they are thinking of us and praying for us. Tho’ we are so few, yet we are part of the whole and have fellowship as a result. I remember how we felt when in prison during the war, and the pressure and the suffering, the feeling of the loss of time, and we used to pray together and it was a great help. One night in the darkness, the four of us had a time of prayer together and when we looked up into the sky above the prison walls, we could see the Southern Cross shining in the sky, and we remembered our friends in Australia and New Zealand and the fellowship we have in His Family; that they were remembering and praying for us, and this was a wonderful help and encouragement to us, I don’t think I will ever forget it.
The fellowship of His servants is a wonderful thing, there is a sacrifice for each one. Much or little, all have given all, and it has brought us into the great fellowship with His servants; into this great circle. Sacrifice brings us fellowship and provision. All have the same fellowship and provision, it doesn’t vary to the different ones, one getting more than the other; the only differences is in experience and this is gained through years of service. Some have more ‘authority’ in His Family (a word I don’t like) for they have more responsibility in His Family. The love that exists in His Family: “by this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” Love in our hearts and unity and oneness with all.
We need to view with great suspicion anything that would destroy the unity and fellowship, the oneness in His Family, that which would cause separation. Think of the small nations of the world who are going to pieces today, fighting, selfishness prevailing. We are not fighting for anything, we are not seeking for place, glory, honour, but we are just laying down our lives for the gospel’s sake. We do nothing to bring us popularity.
Those who have come to the East, I was counting up this morning those who have come to the different countries. The gospel has been brought to these countries at a tremendous cost and there have been many losses. I counted up around 40 who have gone to India, and of that number, 17 are not there now. India has had it’s Gethsemane. I remember Syd Maynard saying, “Perhaps someone will have to die for India to put it on it’s feet.” He was the first to die there, a great sorrow and loss. Syd told me of the time two of them were in the heart of India and one day he found a note lying on the table from his young companion saying, “I’m going to Calcutta, and on to Australia.” Going off leaving Syd alone there in the heart of India, when they should have been sharing their sorrows and joys together. Syd was a wonderful man to be with, a real joy. Here he was left alone and he said, “what could I do all by myself in India?” Perhaps the other man should never have been in the work, one who could do such a thing.
I remember one time when young in the work, we were riding bicycles, and getting bogged down in the mud, my older companion was wiser and he avoided much of it by picking his path, but here was I and my bicycle was all bogged down, and he called out, “It’s all in the bargain, Alex.” We all must struggle and put in out best. Reminds me of the words of that song, “You can find those souls of greatness where the walls are weak and low, where the burdens are the greatest and the tears most often flow; and though worn and tried and tested, heaven’s lessons always glow in the patient loyal bearers of the cross.”
India and Indonesia are hard countries, it has been very difficult. 17 or 18 of those who went to India are no longer there; died, returned home, etc. There are10 now in Ceylon, four who went, no longer there. In Burma, 13 went and 13 returned, none there now. I can remember being there when the first workers were to go to Burma, and they went in great joy, they were going in high hope to a new country. Adam Hutchinson died there in Burma, in Rangoen, from smallpox, a great loss to the Kingdom.
We must build these things up, must find true, loyal souls who will be left to carry on this work, to have it so if we must leave, there will be those left to carry on. Of the 14 or 15 who went to China, 8 remain. Malaya, of the 42 workers who went, 10 have returned.. Indonesia, 20 went, and lots of losses, 8 remain; 12 have returned to South Africa. You know yourselves what there has been here. I will not speak of that. We cannot rely on numbers, we need to build on the true, loyal souls who can carry on. While we were in prison, one young man, Lucian Garth, a Ceylonese Burma, carried on, and it was a great comfort to us. He solidly carried on and watched after the sheep. Wherever God’s work is, His servants are the same, for God is the one who works in every life.
Zechariah II, “Beauty and bands broken.” Sometimes saints are wrong and then sometimes the servants are wrong. Not God’s desire that Israel and Judah were separated, but the covenant was broken. We need to keep united, from sea to sea, to keep us from destruction. Beauty was broken because the finding together was broken, and they were carried away to Babylon. Ezekiel by Chebar was restored and given a message of God, in the place of bondage. He was given a vision of Son of God was to come, and he saw that four-faced creature which speaks of the four sides of the life of Jesus: Dependability, constancy, rising up to God and the face of man (weakness). No man can rest on past achievements, nor on our laurels, but we must keep fighting until the end against the desire to take it easy, for it would be letting so many down, bring sorrow to many by not keeping true.
The beauty of God’s true spirit and the bands of God’s true love: 11:17, “Woe to the ‘idol’ shepherds and this is hard to understand, but another version says, “worthless shepherds.” Those who have not stood by the flock of God, and they cannot detect wrong through their own slackness. They have lost this while in the work and have become worthless while in the work; their eye cannot see the wrong and they cannot use the sword.
Chapter 4:11, I love this chapter, this is the place we all as servants of God should fill. The two olive trees, the two anointed servants and God standing by; if we stand by God, He will stand by us. Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts, v. 6. Thinking of the two brothers here in the south and of the golden oil going through them to the people, and those souls getting help from God. It is a wonderful thing when the golden oil goes out to souls, getting this right spirit from the Lord. The candle sticks were made out of gold, out of one piece, all coming from the same place. The candlestick here and candlestick in the tabernacle, and candlestick in Rev. All the same except for location. John saw Jesus in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks. We are putting into souls that which comes from God. “I have truly planted the right seed,” Ezekiel.
Sometimes the care of the churches is great, this care for the saints, even as Paul mentioned, things will happen and we must have our eves open and sword in hand for we are all God has to use, we must be on our guard. God trusts us and we are all He has here in the Islands. We have the truth that sets people free, to win souls from the darkness to the light. Take heart because a work so noble, so grand has been started. I’ve been amazed to see the commendable work here in the P.I. Holy oil has gone through golden pipes to the lamps. I would encourage any young life to come here and sacrifice. Anything that is of the past, forget it, it’s over. The cloudy and dark day passed. If the clouds come over and prayers don’t get through, keep the light burning and don’t let a cloud come between you and God, nor between you and your companion.
Consecration in the Old Testament. The consecration of the servants of God, of His priests of old. Our first start is very necessary as we see what we are in for, and being willing to abide by it. Some workers in India were wanting to marry, and a meeting was held to talk it over, and all decided it was a backward step, a lack of the consecration they had at the beginning. They were advised to return to their homeland and to work with their hands which they did, and they have never gone forth again but have been faithful as saints. Drawing back is a loss of heat a weakening of the standard. They were anointed of old, on the ear, on the thumb and on the great toe. Eli would never have stumbled and died if he had kept his heart right and not lost his vision. Eli and his sons died and Samuel a lad took his place, Samuel was faithful from the first. Some prayed for us that we be in the work of God, I know others prayed for me, they have prayed for each one of us, let us keep that ear in touch with God and hear his voice.
We encourage our workers to pray together, to read together in the morning. It helps in the work of the day, to be consecrated for that day, to keep the standard before us each day. These vows of consecration and our righteousness must exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees. “Be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord.” Remember the priest’s garment that had the bell and the pomegranate and the ‘holiness to the Lord,’ Ex. 28:33-36. Perhaps you have this fruit here, it is shock full of seeds, we counted once and there were ever 600 seeds in one fruit, the flesh is on the seed. This speaks of the precious gospel seed going out. A good farmer does not skimp on seed, he lets the seed go, uses plenty.
We too must do this with the precious gospel seed. I’ve been told that I have too many gospel meetings in a week. When just the two of us are together in a camp, I like to remember what Bill Carroll told us years ago, he was a wonderful man of wisdom. He said, “Ask, seek, knock–ask God in the morning for guidance, help, to be united in purpose, strength for the day, wisdom, plan your day. Seek, in the afternoon go out and seek the sinner, seek for souls. In the evening, knock on their heart’s door. Good to keep the morning free, to be stronger in spirit and body to devote more time to souls. We would all last better if we kept our morning free. You can visit and talk in the afternoon. There is that which binds us together as brothers and sisters, remember our consecration to God. Sometimes difficulties arise, but always remember your consecration.
The tabernacle in the wilderness: Rams’ and Badgers’ skins dyed red on the outside - that is what God had in the wilderness, the inside tho’ was great, all those boards joined together with silver sockets and rings. Boards held together are like the servants of God. I remember down in Aust., a lay preacher for the Methodist, he prayed for us and for our mission in his town, and he likened the gospel tent to ‘the tent of God in the wilderness of sin.’ He got help and his three children are out in the gospel now. The tent didn’t look like much and some saying that we didn’t have much of a church, but that is not our church! The tent very poor, insecure.
The tabernacle had all the beauty inside, there was the altar showbread on the table, oil for light, but behind the veil the holiest of all. This prayer together, I love it but the holiest of all, our own private prayer, we must make time to pray. Often in the night when I cannot sleep, pray. In the Japanese time, we had long dark hours in the prison, no lights and we spent the time praying. Used to pray for all I had known, by name, all we had ever met. These things put quality in us. This private prayer is the holiest of all. A young sister worker in Aust., dying of cancer, asked for the song “Alone with God” at her funeral. Her companions’ testimony of her was, she loved the place of prayer. Jesus valued this above all else. Think of David fleeing, rejected, with his little band, When Absalom took his place, and he climbed that mount weeping, worshiping, leaving it all in God’s hand, he was not fighting for himself.
When Syd was dying, the matron of the hospital wanting him to call his friends to pray around his bed, and he could say, “All the praying has been done.” If there ever was a man that loved the place of prayer, it was Syd. Nice to see this developing in young workers, and this mark in old workers, giving more time to private prayer.
One old worker too hard, was advised to give his younger companion more time. The younger ones must know that the older ones have work to do (that) the younger cannot do and often he cannot explain. Good when the younger one feels, ‘I’ll help him all I can, I’ll do the chores, “leaving him free to do the things he must do. We realize if we do this now, we’ll get the same treatment when we get older and have more responsibility. One young man offered for and wanted to go in the work, but he puts all he has on his motor bike, he has never sacrificed for the work. He wouldn’t know how to live, we must know what it is to help. He could never get help when he has never given help. We accepted his offer, but let him wait. We must see and know, “We are our brother’s keeper.” We must be a help to one another.
We get to the climax of what God wants in Eph. 5:27, for this is His plan. A glorious church, washed, cleansed, present it; the Lamb is all the glory in Emmanuel’s land, the bride does not eye her garments, her eyes are on her bridegroom’s face. This is the object of our work, sanctified, pure in God’s sight. Wrong starting amongst saints, can be helped but wrong amongst servants, hard to help. Lovely souls here, a privilege to lay down our lives for them. It’s hard to get wrinkles out, to get the spots off, but what isn’t done, God will have mercy on, if we do our best. If we are heated to the same heat of Jesus’ love, all will be well. With two kinds of steel, can only be welded together as they are heated to the same heat. We are not all the same, but are all sharers of God’s love, and united together in Him. We have all been purchased by the blood of His own Son.
Editor's Note: Alex Mitchell was born 1897; started in the work in New Zealand in 1924, and labored in Malaysia, Sri
Lanka, Philippines and Singapore. He died in 1980 in New Zealand.
Shall we open our Bibles to the Book of Mark and Chapter 8. Beginning with Verse 10, we read of Jesus coming into a place called Dalmanutha. And the Pharisees came to Him and asked to see a sign from Him. It says that Jesus sighed deeply in His spirit. That means that Jesus was deeply hurt by that question. I wondered what there was about it that had hurt Him like this. Normally we appreciate it when people come to us and ask us to give proof that this is the right way. So what was there about this that made Jesus sigh so deeply in His spirit?
I notice that this place Dalmanutha is also called Magdala - you read that in the last verse of Matthew 15. Dalmanutha was the Hebrew name of the city and Magdala was the Greek name. It was from Magdala that Mary Magdalene had come. People who grew up in Nazareth were called Nazarenes and the people who came from Magdala were called Magdalenes. You know that to distinguish this Mary from the other Marys they called her Mary Magdalene. This little village - city it is called - but it was a village on the north-west shore of Galilee. It was a place where everybody knew the other person and what the other person was doing. They all knew the great work that had taken place in the life of Mary Magdalene which represented the greatest miracle that could come into any life. And that was why Jesus was so hurt when they came and said we would see a sign from you. What greater sign could He have given them than the change that had come about in the life of this woman?
Nicodemus also belonged to this Pharisee group, but he didn’t come to Jesus saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee; he came to Jesus and said Master we have seen the signs. He said, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no man can do these miracles that you do, unless God is with him. And the miracles he was referring to were the miracles he had seen in the lives of the disciples, just like the miracle that had taken place in the life of Mary Magdalene. So Nicodemus didn’t say we would see a sign from thee, he came asking Jesus how can I get that miracle in my life. And Jesus explained to him it only came from being born again because that is the way God works a miracle in the life of His people.
My first companion was a wonderful help to me in many ways. One of the things that he taught me when I was first in the Work, which has helped me all down through the years was, that whenever you read the scriptures, always try and get a lesson out of it for yourself. He said sometimes it is easy to say, that was spoken to the Pharisees, or that was spoken to the scribes, but he said we can always get a message out of it for ourselves. And the lesson I get out of this is that the greatest sign God can give to the people that I meet is to show them the great change that He has brought into my life. The more change He can bring about in my life, the more evidence that He can give to the world that this is the Truth. The psalmist said, the Lord will beautify the meek with salvation. Now in the world, people try to beautify themselves by what they add to the picture, but in God’s Way, God beautifies His people by what He saves them from. I think we are all honest enough this morning to admit that we all have a tendency towards pride.
And we all have a tendency towards selfishness and other marks like that within us. If I let the Lord work in my life to save me from this tendency of pride, that works beauty into my life. And if the Lord can subdue in my life the tendency towards selfishness, jealousy and such things, that adds to the beauty in my life. Many people will see that and it won’t impress them any more than it didn’t impress these people in Magdala about Mary; But wherever we come in contact with an honest person like Nicodemus - this is what they have been looking for. Often people say when they meet a child of God, they saw in that person an answer to their prayer. The more we allow the Lord to work in our lives and control our lives, the more His is able to give to the world the sign that the world is looking for.
Now turn to verse 22. Jesus came now to Bethsaida. Bethsaida was a little fishing village on the northeast sea of Galilee, and a little strip of land divided these two villages from each other. Bethsaida was also a city like Magdala. It was a small place where everybody knew the other person and what was going on. When Jesus came to Bethsaida, He found a blind man and He took him by the hand and He led him out of the town. And He began to work with this man. He asked him if he saw anything and he said I see men like trees walking. He hadn’t seen very much yet, but he saw something. And the Lord continued working with him till he saw all men clearly. I wondered why Jesus led this blind man out of the village of Bethsaida before He could do anything for him. You might have thought He would like to do this right in town where everybody could see him. Then why did He lead him out of the town before He started to work?
You will remember that Bethsaida was one of the cities that Jesus upbraided because of their unbelief. He said if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, then they would have repented long ago. I decided that I would look into the story of Bethsaida and see what were these mighty works that had been done there. What was the first thing that I found? It was from Bethsaida that Philip, Andrew and Peter had gone into the Work. You read of that in John 1:44. Again, these people at Bethsaida had seen a miracle of miracles taking place right before their eyes. They had seen these young men converted and the change had taken place in their lives and they had also seen these young men give up everything that they had been living for and go out to give their lives to preach the gospel to others. In spite of all of that, they would not believe.
There are some people who base all of their salvation on the meaning of a verse. They are not impressed by anything, but just insisting that everything depends on this one verse. But, we have found that if people cannot be impressed by the sacrifice of a young worker, there is nothing that is going to touch them. I would like to help you young workers in this meeting this morning to realize the greatness of your privilege as a young worker. I know how I felt as a young worker. I couldn’t say very much in the meetings. I couldn’t do the things that my older companion could do, and I battled with the thought for a long while that I’m just not much good in the Work. I didn’t realize at the time that a young worker going into the Work is by his or her sacrifice speaking the loudest sermon they will ever preach.
I had the privilege of taking a young worker with me a few years ago. In the field where we laboured, there was a man and his wife and four children coming to the meetings. The wife and four children had professed for several years. The man came to the meetings and he told his wife, I don’t get anything out of the meetings, but I like to go with my family. After we had been having our mission for a while, this man began to talk more and more to his wife about what he got out of the meetings. One night, at the end of the visit, his wife said, Bill, you are getting a lot out of the meetings now, aren’t you? And he said, Yes, I am. He said, that young worker, he just kills me.
After he professed, he told me one day - I appreciated all you said in the meetings, but it was the sacrifice of that young boy by your side that helped me to realize wha t this was all about. He said they had often had older workers in their home and he had appreciated what they were doing for the gospel’s sake. But he said, when you see a young man actually doing it, then it takes on a real meaning. We would say to all of you young workers in this meeting this morning, don’t be discouraged because you cannot speak very well. And, don’t be discouraged because you cannot do what your older companion can do. Remember, there is no louder sermon that can be preached than the sermon preached by a young life being placed on the altar. If people are not impressed by the sacrifice of a young worker, there is nothing going to help them.
So, when Jesus met this blind man in the village of Bethsaida, the first thing He did was to just take him out of that place of unbelief. If they couldn’t be impressed by Philip, Andrew and Peter going into the Work, there is no use trying to do any other work here - so He separated him from the city. When He worked with this blind man, He asked if he saw anything, and he said I see men as trees walking. A person doesn’t see much if you can’t tell the difference between a man and a tree, but you are seeing something, and as Jesus continued to work with him, he saw every man plainer and plainer. I would just like to say that this is the work that goes right on into eternity. Every year of our life, we see this work more plainly. Every year of our life, we see the wonderfulness of it and the greatness of it like we never saw it before. I had the privilege of celebrating my fiftieth year in the Work a few weeks ago. I think you all know that this thing is fifty times more wonderful to me today than when I started out. This is especially true of the Work. The Work is the only thing in the world which gets more wonderful. You see a little more the greatness in the height, the depth and the breadth of it all
I have often thought of that time when Elisha and his companion were in a city and it was surrounded at night. When the young worker got up in the morning and saw the enemy surrounding the city, he turned to his older companion and he said, Alas, master, what shall we do? I like to think of the two things that Elisha did. The first thing he said was don’t be afraid, the ones who are helping us are more than those who are against us. What he was doing was helping that young worker to see through his eyes. I thank God for my older companions who have so many times helped me to see through their eyes things which I couldn’t see for myself. We all realize it is a sacred trust when God entrusts us with a younger companion. Oftentimes we have to sit down and study with them and help them to see things through our eyes. I sometimes have said to my companion, if you could see this as I see it, you would never have another doubt.
The second thing that Elisha did was to pray for his young companion. And he prayed that the Lord would open his eyes so that he could see what he himself was seeing. I would just like to say to the young workers here, don’t be afraid to go to your older companion. If there is something you don’t see or you don’t understand or something that is worrying you, you go to your older companion and talk to them, and they will always be glad to talk to you.
You will find with the passing of time that you will see things more clearly too. When I first started in the Work, all that I saw was that the Lord wanted me in the Work - I didn’t see beyond that. And, at first I just saw it as a life of sacrifice. As time went on, I began to see it as a privilege. One of our young sisters in Oregon in speaking at convention this year said, when the Lord first called her into the Work, she said, Why me? Other young people just seemed to make their own plans with freedom and the Lord put His hand on her and she said, Why me, why is the Lord picking on me? But she went on to say I have been in the Work five years now and I am still saying Why me? But it is now, Why should I have this privilege? She said I see so many other people who are missing it and I think Why should I have this great privilege to be in the Work? That young girl is leaving in a few weeks to preach the gospel in the Philippines when others don’t have it. Really, the Lord’s servants are the only ones who know the full meaning of the word privilege. And I am so thankful that the Lord preserved me in the Work long enough so I could see this is not a sacrifice, but this is the greatest privilege that the Lord could give to any man or woman.
We also have our eyes opened as we go on in the Work to see the greatness of the privilege of service. In the world, people begin as servants and they end up as lords. But in this Work, we begin as servants and every year we become greater servants. The last night Jesus was with His disciples, He talked to them about this. He said, “Whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth, is not he that sitteth at meat? But I am among you as He that serveth.” Jesus began His life as a servant. And, if we might use the term, as a young worker, He went out as a servant, but now you find Him at the end of His life and He is a greater servant to others than He had ever been before. So, as we get older in the Work, the Lord just gives us the privilege of greater service.
Some of you will remember back in 1969, we had our brother Willie Phyn with us for a workers’ meeting. He told us something about King Rehoboam that has been a marvelous help to me down through the years. People came to Rehoboam and asked couldn’t the king make the people’s load a little lighter than it had been before. Rehoboam was wise enough to go to the older men who had counseled his father, and he asked what should I do about this? And the counsel that those old men gave was that if you will be a servant to these people and be kind to them, then they will be your servants forever. I have found that that works very well in my own ministry. I have found that the best way to help my young companion to be a servant is by being a servant to them. And a person could go on and on talking about the different things our eyes are opened a little wider to see year by year.
After Jesus had opened the eyes of this blind man, He said, don’t go back into the town and don’t show it to anyone in the town. What lesson do you get out of this? I will tell you how it speaks to me. What Jesus was saying, if you appreciate what I have done for you, the best way of showing your appreciation is by keeping separate. This is true in connection with all of God’s people, but it is especially true to those of us who are in the Work. If we really appreciate what God has done for us, and if we really appreciate the place that He has given us in the Work, there is no greater way that we can show our appreciation than by keeping ourselves separated to the Work. We could say a lot more about that also, but I think it speaks for itself.
Now let us turn to verse 27. Jesus took His disciples now, and they went into the region of Caesarea Philippi. It was there that He asked the disciples “Whom do men say that I am?” Some said you are John the Baptist, or Elias or one of the other prophets. They had not seen that He was the Christ. But they saw the great resemblance between Him and the Prophets they were reading about in the Bible. Caesarea Philippi was a Roman government headquarters. It was there that Philip the tetrarch was governing the people. Rome tried to impress people by its greatness whenever they set up a head quarters, by their big marble buildings and landscape gardens. They wanted to impress people that Rome was a great place to be able to do all this. Those people had never seen Rome, but when they saw all these buildings, they would think that Rome must be a wonderful place.
Right in the midst of this now stands Jesus the Son of God. Why had God sent Jesus into the world? He sent Him here to convince people that heaven was a wonderful place. These people had never seen heaven, but when they looked upon Jesus and all the beautiful characteristics in His life, they would be convinced that heaven is a beautiful and wonderful place. Both of those object lessons were really a good representation of the countries which they represented. Those cold marble buildings were just the perfect representation of the Emperor of Rome - hard and no compassion for the people. But there was Jesus in the midst showing to people the greatest compassion that Heaven could possibly produce in the world. When people looked upon the life of Jesus with all that compassion, and all those heavenly virtues, they would be convinced that heaven is a beautiful and wonderful place. It is a place worth striving for at any cost.
Then he turned to His disciples before He took them away from that scene and He said, now if you follow me and deny yourself and follow in my steps, then you will be able to give to the world the same wonderful picture of heaven that I have given by life. So, if we follow the counsel that Jesus gave in the closing verses of this chapter, then we will give to the world the beautiful picture and representation of heaven that Jesus gave by and through His life. They will realize that only heaven can produce something like this. Wouldn’t it be a wonderful privilege to spend all eternity with people like this, so that no matter what it means or costs, I want to walk this Way, all the way to heaven.
So, I am glad that my first companion taught me the lesson that he did when it came to studying the Bible. We can miss so many valuable lessons by saying, oh well, that was meant for the Romans, or that was meant for the Pharisees. In all of these experiences, we can see a wonderful lesson in it for ourselves and something that will add to the wonderful and beautiful virtues and to the ministry of which we have a part now. So, I hope we will all go forth from this meeting today to give to the world a clear picture of what this Work is, and what salvation is all about. Then, when we come in contact with honest people, they will feel that heaven is so wonderful, I want to get there at any cost. I hope this will be for His sake.
Always talk to the person in the back seat. Remember - there are more souls in the room than the two beneath your shoes.
It’s so much nicer to use “we” instead of “I”.
Talk over plans with your companion. Avoid going off without him knowing where you are going and what you are doing.
Don’t use a “meeting voice.” There is no louder voice than the voice of sincerity.
There are lots of things that can be said in gospel meetings that are nice and true, but they aren’t “gospel.”
Preparing for fellowship meeting is laboring for bread; preparing for gospel meeting could be compared to sowing seed.
Don’t make things too complicated. Speaking with grace, but share what Jesus really taught. In talking with the Woman at the well, Jesus began by talking about drawing water. When Philip talked with the eunuch, he began at the place where the eunuch was reading. Ezekiel said, “I sat where they sat.” Sometimes we start beyond people. Just begin where they are.
The basic principles Jesus taught His disciples still apply to us today. I’ve learned to value the correcting influence of my companion. A great proof of our discipleship is that we love one another. If I can’t love my companion, I have no right to expect anyone to come and listen to me. There have been times when I could have insisted on doing it my way, but I thought, “If I just dig my heels in on this, what kind of an atmosphere will it produce?” Prepare to give in a little bit! A man steering his boat was keeping a straight course, but he kept turning the wheel to the left and then to the right. When asked why he did that, he said it just took out a bit of the rolling of the waves, and we also can take some of the roll out of the waves for our companions by making adjustments, and still keep a straight course.
Jesus told them not to take two coats - what does that mean for us today? It just means to keep your personal possessions down to a minimum. Taking what is required for the mission we’re working. In the Army, we had a kit inspection every six months, and I still do that...dumping everything out and discarding what I don’t use.
What does “salute no man by the way,” mean? Just don’t be drawn into side issues, sidelines - don’t run the friends’ business - just remember what we’ve been called to do. Some workers even get taken up with a hobby that takes too big a hold on them.
“Take no scrip.” Just be careful about the way we handle money. It’s consecrated and belongs to the Lord. It’s easy to get careless and not think too much about how we use it. One friend said to another friend who wanted to give money to a certain brother worker, “That’s all right - he won’t waste it.” We need to remind ourselves to be careful.
It says of Abraham and Isaac, “so they went both of them together.” There are two sides to our life and ministry and they have to go one together.
Paul said he would very gladly “spend and be spent for you.” II Cor. 12:15. We have control over how we spend money, but the money has no control over how it is spent. So it is with our lives. We have a certain control over how we spend them, but there’s also the side right along with it that has no say - we don’t decide what field we’re in, what companion we’ll have, etc.; we just have to be willing to spend and be spent without any rebellion. I need the Lord’s spirit to guide my service!
Noah first sent out a raven, buy why did he later send the dove? Perhaps it was because he didn’t trust the raven very much. It is necessary to mistrust hasty human judgment and learn to wait for the Spirit’s guidance.
Get back to the simple way that Jesus and the apostles taught. Become familiar with the basic teachings of the gospel. Avoid playing on one string, picking up expressions or dwelling on one line of thought. No bread in this. David played on an instrument of ten strings.
Avoid becoming technical or professional. We could miss the point of what Jesus taught.
Be reasonable about possessions. Be simple. Avoid having things that are a burden.
The worker is #1. The worker is the backbone of the body; if the backbone is weak, the body cannot function properly.
1 Sam 2. Eli’s sons were demanding the best for themselves - selfishness. If the Lord’s people see the spirit of sacrifice in the servants, it makes their sacrifice pleasant. Using their sacrifice for ourselves or for what does not pertain to the Kingdom could make their sacrifice unpleasant and cause them to disagree with the way we use what is theirs.
John 10:15-17. It isn’t the fruit we have in a mission that wins our Father’s love, but laying down our lives. We lay down what we would naturally live for.
John the Baptist was a true witness. Pointed people to the Bridegroom. “He must increase, but I must decrease.” No credit to ourselves. His people are not our sheep - they are His. This is not our work - it is His. Avoid making special friends and getting people taken up with ourselves.
Ruth 2. The servant that was set over the reapers had once been a reaper. Now his job was different, but having been a reaper, he could understand and help the reapers. In this Kingdom, we are not given a place; we grow into a place.
Keep the right aim in the Work, at any age and in any place. 1 Tim 1:6. Swerved. Margin - some have not aimed at. We may miss the mark at times, but if we do not aim at the mark, we will miss it much farther.
We can preach a lot about bread and still fail to have bread.
David did not accept the threshing floor from Ornan on his terms. God will not accept our sacrifice on our terms.
Gen 18. The three men who came to Abraham are like the servants coming with the presence of God with them. They left His presence with Abraham for awhile (v.22) and they left Abraham and Sarah believing more fully in God and His promises than when they came. It’s possible to come and go and leave behind nothing that is for eternity, it’s only wood, hay and stubble.
When we read, labor to get bread, the real thing. While we are young, we can read to get information, not necessarily a revelation. Get familiar with the Word, get it in our mind. Later, the Holy Spirit can bring it to life and light to us.
2 Sam 8:14-15. David was able to reign with judgment and justice because he put garrisons throughout all the land of Edom.
Some may ask “where is the limit; how far can we go?” The sheep who have a good shepherd do not need a fence.
2 Tim 2. The soldier, the scholar, the servant. Paul encouraged Timothy to dedicate himself to the Word. A soldier has things to guard. Someone who had taught school for years said, “I have not yet met a dumb student. He simply hasn’t met the right teacher.” We have the right teacher. Be a good student, keep on learning! As a servant, be a gentle man, not striving with anyone. Don’t strive about words. Can get caught in the wilderness of words. Remember the end of the commandment – a pure heart, etc.
Psalm 119. V 19 - our relationship with the world. A stranger. V. 63 - relationship with the one by our side. A companion. V 125 - relationship with the Lord. A servant. V. 141 - who we are. We are small, humble.
True liberty is being able to serve others.
Joshua 3:17. When the feet of the priests stood firm in Jordan, the waters opened up and the people were able to go forward to victory and their inheritance.
The virtuous woman was careful not to go to the gates where she didn’t belong, but her testimony was known in the gates.
Saul. His calling, his good days. God chose him, a choice young man, a goodly person and not a goodlier person than he was among the children of Israel. From his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people. We need something “above the shoulders.” Also need the right desire in our heart, but we could be “all heart” and lack wisdom. We need very much this wisdom from God to know how to direct His people. Saul wasn’t without something to do when he was called, but he felt that this calling was more important than what his father had for him to do. He became another man, had a change of heart. This comes in the work. We have a different life than we did before. Saul was willing to take counsel from his younger servant. 1 Sam 9:11-12. Where was Samuel? The young maidens would have seen Saul was a goodly person, but they did not detain him. Told him to go on to the place of sacrifice. V.27. “Stand still awhile that I may show thee the word of God.” Easy to get too busy, to be on the road too much, etc. Nothing takes the place of reading and praying, fellowship with God. What does the Lord want us to do? Saul told his uncle about the asses, but not about the matters of the kingdom. Some things about the Kingdom don’t belong to the world, and some things in the work that should not be told outside the work, not to a relative or anyone. It does not help the work. Samuel told the people the manner of the Kingdom. A certain way to do and be that belongs to the Kingdom. Saul had men with him whose hearts God had touched. We desire to be with the same kind of people. What Saul did not destroy later cried out to be fed. He continued to fight, but because he didn’t pray, he lost the victory.
Lev 10. Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu burned incense in their censers and offered strange fire before the Lord. The prescription for this incense had been given to Moses and nothing was to be added to it. Nadab and Abihu did add something to it that caused this strange fire. V 2 - a quick answer from the Lord. V. 3 - Aaron held his peace. No answer, no question about why this had to happen. It was an answer from God and Aaron did not question. If something would be introduced that is new or different from what God has commanded, it is strange fire. “That which we have heard from the beginning.” V 3, Ex 19. The Lord would be sanctified to His people thru those who would come near Him, thru the priests. Nadab and Abihu failed to do this. Numbers 20:12. Moses and Aaron called the Lord’s people rebels and said, “must we fetch you water out of this rock?” They failed to sanctify the Lord to His people and they didn’t believe Him. Psalm 106:32-33. He spoke unadvisedly with his Lips. It wasn’t that he smote the rock twice, but it was what he said that caused God’s wrath. They called God’s people “rebels” and then God called them rebels. In the New Testament when we read of Jesus being transfigured, Moses was in the center of that occasion. He was not disqualified from his place in heaven, but he lost a wonderful privilege.
There has been bread in the meetings here already, and it has been given in the Spirit. We have learned through broken experiences how to value a companion. Perhaps too often we use the word, “I”, instead of “we.” Good to realize we could not be where or what we are without the help of others.
(Eph 4) Verse 1: Paul was a prisoner in the Lord. There have been many experiences that might have taken us out of God’s family if we were not prisoners of the Lord. Paul proved that every time there was an inclination on his part to break out of prison, there were certain things that held him in. The Lord was round about His people. When Paul got to the fences, he always saw God’s love, care and provision that softened his heart and kept him in and moved him to go no further. It is good when God can soften our hearts when we have been hardened and inclined to take our own way.
(Eph 4) Verse 2: One of the things that Satan would try to hinder us in and probably has often succeeded, is that when there has been a little success, we have developed a wrong spirit; and instead of keeping lowly and meek, we have been exalted. If we are to be worthy of the vocation wherewith we have been called, we must keep lowly and meek. The times we feel the most worthy may be the time when we are the most unworthy.
(Eph 4) Verse 7: “But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.” With the gifts, God has given us grace. In Acts, Paul spoke of the Gospel of grace. Those who have accepted this Gospel and the gift of grace, can have other gifts also. Sometimes when a friend goes to a foreign land where we could never go, they send us useful gifts, which give us some idea of the customs in that country. We learn things in that way which we could learn in no other way. We have something far more wonderful in Christ, who has gone to receive a Kingdom and has sent us gifts which are products of that Kingdom.
(Eph 4) Verse 11: “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;”
The first Gift was Apostles. Any person who has forsaken all and gone forth into the Harvest field could be classed among the Apostles. Some seem to set themselves to excel in one particular point of these five gifts, and they don’t seem to be so very well balanced. Others have developed some of each, which keeps them well balanced. An apostle means a person whom God has called and sent. There is evidence that He seals their labors by giving them fruit. Paul wrote to the Corinthians that they were the seal of his apostleship. In Matthew 13, a sower went forth to sow. He was not forced to go, but went willingly. Those who sow in tears shall reap with joy.
The next Gift was Prophets. When we first went forth to preach, the problem was what should we say. One of the sweetest experiences in our lives has been when we were willing to pass through the struggles, spending time in prayer, which brought us a little message from God for others. The way the Samaritan woman at the well learned that Jesus was a Prophet, was by His words and Spirit.
The 3 rd Gift was Evangelists. Someone has said that an Evangelist is a person who can make living for God look good and sound good to others. One woman gave her testimony once, saying what helped her most was the harmony which she saw in the lives of God’s servants – even when they spent the second year together. She had not seen harmony like that in other preachers.
The 4 th Gift was Pastors. They know what it is to dwell in green pastures, like David, because God leads them there. God leads and feeds them, and they in turn can do the same for others. They have a real care for God’s sheep. In Matt. 10, Jesus sent out preachers in six pairs. How important it is to have true fellowship together. He sent them to the lost sheep. Those who would preach successfully need, first of all, to be obedient and submissive to God.
The last Gift was Teachers. Nicodemus told Jesus, “We know you are a teacher sent from God.” He had seen things in Jesus’ life which convinced him that He could teach by example as well as by words. A person who is a good pupil will also make a good Teacher. Those who have had to study hard to learn their lessons will have patience in teaching others.
God has given these same Gifts to us and we need to be careful how we use them. There are many wonderful things in the Bible about these Gifts and also much to warn us of what will happen to people who misuse them.
Verse 12: “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:” These Gifts were given for the perfecting of the saints. Every good thing God puts into the life of His servants is to show others the possibility of aiming at and seeking after the same. Everybody cannot be a Bishop or an Elder, but all can aim at being what a Bishop should be. Saints are wonderfully privileged in having even the youngest worker among them. It can have a very steadying influence upon them.
Verse 13: “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:” These Gifts are given until we all come into the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God. None of us have attained to that yet. The Lord would not like to see us remaining just as children, but He wants to see us growing like Christ, who is our Elder Brother and Example.
Editor's Note: Arthur Benton was born Dec. 11, 1885 in Staffordshire, England, went in
the work in 1910 and continued in the work until his death in Somerset,
Pennsylvania Feb. 6, 1981. He is buried in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.